People with Parkinson’s disease (PD) experience tremors, slow or uncontrolled movement, and difficulties with balance and coordination. This can make tasks like dressing and bathing quite tricky.

You may find it hard to hold toothbrushes, razors and other grooming tools, and you may struggle to maintain your balance.

However, there are ways around these difficulties.

Tips for dressing yourself:

– Do some stretching exercises to “warm up” before beginning. Don’t rush.
– Where possible, sit on a steady, supportive chair while dressing. Make sure it has strong arms, or other furniture on either side of it to help you push yourself up.
– Keep your clothes in easy reach. Lay them out before you start to dress.
– PD-friendly clothing includes garments with elastic waistbands, closures without buttons, and zips with large tabs for easy gripping.
– A footstool can help with putting on shoes and socks. Shoe-horns are also useful.
– Non-skid socks can be more secure than slippers.
– Lightweight shoes without laces (e.g. with Velcro tabs) are easy to take on and off.
– Use a mirror to show you when something is skew or twisted.

Grooming tips:

– Don’t rush: give yourself plenty of time.
– Sit down wherever possible, e.g. when shaving or brushing your hair and teeth.
– Make use of electric razors and toothbrushes.
– Hands-free hairdryers are available.
– Plan your grooming routine in advance: lay out what you’ll need.

Bathing tips:

– Use a shower chair and hand-held showerhead.
– If you only have a bathtub, get in and out of it using a transfer bench.
– Bathtubs, toilets and showers should all have handrails installed.
– Use non-skid rubber bath and shower mats. Bathroom rugs should have a non-slip rubber backing.
– Use liquid soap – it’s easier to use than bars.
– Keep a light on in the bathroom at night, in case you need to use the toilet.
– Take a phone into the bathroom with you, in case of emergencies.

Sources:

Breslow, D., ‘Parkinson’s Onboard: Traveling with PD’, Northwestern University, National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence; Brandabur, M.M., ‘Nutrition and Parkinson’s Disease’, The Parkinson’s Institute; Parkinson’s Disease Foundation: www.pdf.org; National Parkinson Foundation: www.parkinson.org

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